It comes as no surprise to many that certain parts of Australia have centuries-old winemaking traditions. Even less of a surprise is the fact that on any given day, you can take winery tours that provide a first-hand insight into the culmination of the winery’s efforts, albeit in moderation. Most wine connoisseurs are familiar with the Yarra Valley – a region notorious for producing some of the best vino in the land.
A Brief History of Yarra Wines
The Yarra Valley winemaking tradition goes all the way back to 1838 when two cattle-ranching brothers moving their livestock south from Sydney got tired of dealing with smelly cows and decided to work with some aromatic wine grapes instead. They planted two types of different varietals, and the area was later taken over by a Swiss native whose descendants turned it into a major wine centre known as Yeringberg.
This winery would later go on to win the Exposition Universelle of 1889, and although the region would be converted to dairy farming by 1937, this remains the only instance of a winery in the southern hemisphere earning such accolades.
At was at this point where the stage was set for a strong wine culture in the Yarra Valley; even though major development took a hiatus, surprisingly, until the 1960s. Wantirna Estate, founded by Reg Egan in 1963, was one of the first modern wineries to spring up in the area, after which was soon followed by Coldstream Hills and establishments by Moët & Chandon – the French champagne maker.